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Sex + Relationships

The Various Types of Sexuality: Explained

Sexuality has been and still is a hot topic, with gay marriage slowly and steadily becoming more accepted around the world. But there’s more to sexuality than being either gay or straight. There are innumerable sexual orientations because sexuality is fluid, and it’s hard to fit into clearly-defined categories because everyone is so unique. Sexual orientation can be complicated because people can describe and categorize themselves however they’d like. Let it be known that this is nowhere near a comprehensive list. Orientations can be interpreted in various ways and identities are in the end, up to the individual to decide and define.


A.K.A, straight. We all know this one — It’s the most “accepted” form of sexuality. Hetero means “other” or “different,” so it classifies those who feel attraction to a sex different from their own.


Homo means “same,” so homosexual means liking someone of the same sex. This is probably the second most well-known orientation. Gay and lesbian people generally fit into this category.


Bi means “two” and bisexual individuals feel attraction to those of both the same and different sex or gender. They are attracted to both females and males. Just because a man has only had relationships with women does not negate the attraction he may have to other men. Bisexual people are commonly erased in society because they don't fit into an either-or category. They are not 50% gay and 50% straight; they are bisexual.


Pan means “all,” so pansexual people are attracted to all genders. It’s similar to bisexual in that pansexual individuals are attracted to more than one gender; however, they can feel attraction to male, female, intersexual, gender-queer, transsexual and other gender identities. For people who identify as pansexual, gender is not a limiting factor in attraction because they are attracted to people of any sex or gender. The term “pansexual” is often used interchangeably with “omnisexual.”


Queer is a very ambiguous word. It has many different definitions and uses, but here I will try to define it as simply as possible. Basically, a queer person does not conform to traditional gender or sexuality norms.


Asexual people experience no or little sexual attraction. Asexual individuals can, however, feel a romantic and emotional attraction to someone. Many (but not all) asexual people can experience arousal, but it is not directed at anyone in particular. They can still engage in sexual activity and go on to have successful and meaningful relationships while not feeling sexual attraction to their partner.

There are various forms of asexuality, mainly graysexual and demisexual. Graysexual individuals can feel sexual attraction, but it is often rare. Those who identify as demisexual only feel sexual attraction to someone they have formed an emotional bond with, although that bond is no guarantee that a sexual attraction will develop.

Maybe you don’t feel like you fit into any of these categories, and that’s okay! You define yourself and fitting into a box doesn't matter. You don’t need a label to prove who you are.

Just remember: people are just people, and we can like whomever we please. It’s an intimate part of everyone’s identity that cannot be controlled, so be sure to not belittle or erase it. 

I'm Frances. I'm 19 and am currently studying anthropology and geography at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. My ultimate passion is travel but I also love to eat, cook, read, and write. I hope to join the Peace Corps in a few years and make a tiny difference in the world.
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